Matthew 7:16-20 (NKJV)
You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Every good tree bears good fruit. Could it be so simple? Are we really like a tree planted by a stream? (Psalm 1:3) If so why do we experience times of poverty, lack, famine or drought? Or is all this just poetry in motion? The next few verses in Matthew are quite somber. This is the part that cuts to the bone and breaks the human heart. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven.” It goes on to tell the devastating news of people who thought they were serving Jesus and in a close relationship with the Lord until the fateful day when He says, “I never knew you.” No matter what we “do” for God or “say” about Him, it is the fruit of our life that determines the relevance of our relationship with Jesus Christ.
If the Lord knows me by my fruit, it might be a good idea to determine what my life is producing in order to justify my cause. If my cause is Christ, the fruit of my life should be the fruit of His Spirit. His Spirit in me produces “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” When my life is in unison with Jesus surrendered to His Spirit, I will begin to produce this kind of fruit in my life. It is not dependent on my natural circumstances but my deep and abiding connection to the Lord. You will know them by their fruits. I must be known by my fruits in order for the message of the Good News of Jesus to be made known. I don’t want to hear the words “I never knew you.”
Genesis 1:28 (NKJV)
Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Fruitfulness has been our assignment from the start. God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. He also told that to have dominion over the earth. This didn’t last long as mankind gave up prosperity and power to the enemy for a single piece of fruit. Sound familiar? Esau gave up his birthright for a single meal to satisfy natural hunger rather than seeking fulfillment. (Hebrews 12:14-17) The Lord wants us to reclaim prosperity and power so that we will again produce good fruit with our life.
Psalm 92:12-13 (NKJV)
The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.
To be planted in the House of the Lord requires living life from God’s Perspective. Rather than depending on natural feelings, environmental conditions, social situations and atmospheric changes – it is to place our total and absolute trust in God’s Faithfulness. Allowing His Power to change our life from the inside out and focusing on absolute obedience and allowing radical transformation that takes us out of our comfort zone and beyond our own strength. It sounds good in theory. The walk of faith is not validated by anything naturally. It is born of hope that is supernatural and cannot be humanly obtained. The righteous shall flourish in the House of the Lord. This is not a church, building or place of worship externally. Righteousness is the personal choice to give our life – mind, soul and body to Christ and to live in God’s Presence. This is where we begin to bear fruit in life.
John 12:24-26 (NKJV)
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.
When the doctors decided that a bone marrow transplant was the next step in saving our son’s life, I had no idea what all that entailed so we had a conference with the doctors and full consultation. After more than two years with these professionals, we had a very good relationship but for some reason when they entered the room – it was on a whole new level. I was handed various case studies to support their medical opinion. As I glanced over the statistical data, the gravity of our conversation gave insight to their demeanor. It became clear that even with this “miracle” treatment that he only had about a 2% chance of survival. To live every fast growing cell must die, and his body depend on the return of precious cells to facilitate the growth process. When I asked the doctor, what choice did we have? There was none. Without it, there was 100% chance that he wasn’t going to make it. I am not a mathematician but even with my limited understanding I realized that the odds were clearly stacked against him.
Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. Harvest begins with the death of a seed. Salvation begins with the death of self. We took our chances and celebrate with our son over a year of remission. If he had not undergone this procedure, it very well may have been a funeral. This is the reality of life without Jesus. We will die. You know the rest. With the Lord, we are promised forever. It begins by deciding what we live for. Today or forever? Hunger or harvest?
Malachi 3:10-12 (NKJV)
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” says the Lord of hosts; and all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,” says the Lord of hosts.
I had a single friend who was experiencing money woes. I encouraged her as a fellow believer to begin tithing. She insisted that she could not “afford” to tithe. She lived paycheck to paycheck as a single mother. I encouraged her to give up eating fast food or her morning beverage. Just give it a try, start somewhere. She took it to heart and began setting a portion of her income aside and giving it to the Lord. Almost immediately, she began to experience God’s Favor and little blessings here and there. However, when she did not see radical change in her minimal giving – she stopped.
We reap what we sow. It is Biblical. What we are willing to give up with a willing heart in full obedience to God will yield the like back in our life. You get what you give essentially. Why is that we give the Lord a little but expect Him to give us abundance in return? “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse” means the Lord is asking for complete obedience to “open the Windows of Heave and pour for you such a blessing that there will never be enough room to receive it.” The second half is the best part. He will “rebuke the devourer for (our) sakes.” Radical obedience completely aligns our body, soul and spirit with God allowing us to live in His Presence. In doing so, now the outpouring in our life is fully protected. We will be so blessed that others take not of it. We will lived in a peaceful and prosperous environment. This is the power of prosperity and power offered to us by the Lord in exchange for our commitment to love and trust Him with our natural life. It is this kind of life that will yield a harvest of satisfaction and contentment untouchable by the enemy.
2 Peter 1:2-8 (NKJV)
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is our knowledge of God and of Jesus that allows us to obtain the power which gives us all things that pertain to life and godliness. This knowledge becomes wisdom when applied to our life. When we read something in God’s Word or He speaks softly to our soul and we respond with obedience, a tiny seed of faith is pushed deep in fertile soil. It will become the exceedingly great precious promise that we have heard it could be when we faithfully tend our seeds of faith and cultivate more each day. To be a partaker of the divine nature by leaving this world behind desiring supernatural harvest and impossible results rather than settling for natural reproduction and consequences. Faith becomes virtue. Virtue gains knowledge. Knowledge is wisdom when demonstrated by self-control. Self-control will be perseverance as we learn to endure. Endurance leads to god-likeness which leads to full redemption. Godliness is demonstrated in brotherly kindness. Kindness makes us love others as we have been instructed. Wrapped with a bow – this is obedience and faithfulness to God which begins with the tiny seed called faith. It is by producing these fruits that bear resemblance to the fruit of His Spirit which will cause us to abound in prosperity and productivity which is called fruitfulness.
Isaiah 37:31 (NKJV)
And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward.
John 3:30 (NKJV) He must increase, but I must decrease.
Am I living for harvest or hunger today? As I examine the fruit of my life is it born of faith or fear? What am I saying? What am I doing? Do I live in confidence or crisis? Fruit exemplifies spiritual success. It also satisfies our life so we are content in every situation. If I am discontent with a certain area of my life and it is not producing as it should, I must decide if I am investing in that part of life or allowing it to be barren. For example, if I am experiencing financial woes I should look at my giving to God’s Kingdom. Just a personal testimony, our family has never gone without since we made the commitment to tithe first. Giving God our first fruit rather than what was left has rebuked the devourer time and time again. Any area of our life that is not producing a harvest has one of two conditions attached. Either it is not God’s Will for us or we are not planting seeds of faith in that area. As we plant seeds of faith in a fertile heart, trusting the Lord to do what He promised without regard for our current circumstances, the Windows of Heaven will begin to crack open and His Blessings will fall like rain in that area in response to our faith. Faith cannot be planted anywhere else other than our heart. This means that every time we trust, believe and approach the Lord it must be based solely on our love for Him. You cannot take advantage of the Lord but He will give you all He promised in response to faith sown in love.
My connection to Christ is demonstrated by faith and obedience for righteousness sake. I love the Lord so I try to do what He says. He loves me and gives me all that He has. The more of my life invested in His Love and pursuing a deeper connection to Him will produce more and more fruit in my life. When I want what I want when I want it, I am trying to meet my need in response to a natural feeling. When I seek the Lord for who He is – the harvest I will find. He must increase and I must decrease.
Colossians 1:9-14 (NKJV)
For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
If a farmer did not look beyond today, there would never be another harvest. He wouldn’t continue to plant crops. With barns filled and storehouses overflowing, those who live for today are in danger tomorrow. The farmer does not look at a freshly planted field looking for fruit the very next day, but his experience tells him to tend that field and in the right season in proper time it will be read to harvest. (James 5:7-8) Oh if we as believers in Christ would forgo satiating our hunger and thirst for immediate gratification to plant our faith in forever. To decide that we want a harvest worthy of heaven rather to make us comfortable today. Looking past the next morning into the Light of His Love expecting His Fruit to grow in our life rather than the kind that feeds our body but the kind that fills our soul. I can do everything the Word of God says and have a good life. But it is my connection to Christ, being rooted and grounded in His Love, established in faith and abounding in thanksgiving that allows me the power and prosperity offered from the very beginning. This is how our good life becomes a godly life. It is the fruit that He desires. We must walk worthy of our Lord, fully pleasing Him, AND being fruitful in every good work. This is the way of redemption. This is the way of radical transformation. This is the life of those who harvest becoming fruitful in His Love. This is the life He has called us to live in His Prosperity and Power.
Psalm 65:9-13 (NKJV)
You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the River of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so You have prepared it. You water its ridges abundantly, You settle its furrows; You make it soft with showers, You bless its growth. You crown the year with Your Goodness, and Your Paths drip with abundance. They drop on the pastures of the wilderness, and the little hills rejoice on every side. The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered with grain; they shout for joy, they also sing.